Streets of suburbia in darkness as complacent Palike fail to clear bills

A dimly lit road near the Peenya metro station. DH Photo/B H Shivakumar

The issue of dead streetlights in the city may be age-old, but in recent times, it has made life more difficult for the residents of the suburbia.

A casual walk along the Outer Ring Road after nightfall, especially between the Ibblur junction and Kadubeesanahalli, reveals the challenges of negotiating dark spaces, especially with the threats from strays and muggers imminent in many places.

Stretches of Sarjapur Road, Basaveshwara Nagar, Thanisandra, Yamalur junction and Old Airport Road seem like pieces of dark matter after sunset, with the neon and mercury vapors coming from the shop fronts providing some respite to women and elderly folks walking along.

Unsafe streets

Ravina A, a resident Thanisandra, said only one out of 10 streetlights work in her neighbourhood, making women feel helpless, especially in the wake of harassment by drunken men. "Is this how the IT hub of the country cares for its people?" she fumed. The civic body turned a deaf ear to several of Ravina's complaints.

"Our city is a dangerous place even to walk and the shop lights alone will save people," tweeted a frustrated Vijayshankar, a commuter near Bannerghatta Road.

When Basaveshwar Nagar resident Shrinidhi Prasad entered an ATM, she felt distinctly uneasy about the blacked out streets and lack of security.

Why?

One reason is that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike did not pay to keep the streetlights on. They owe money to the power providers Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) and have piled up outstandings with private contractors for operation and maintenance (O&M) for a year-and-a-half.

"The BBMP has to pay Rs 208 crore to Bescom towards streetlights and water. Of this, the due for streetlights itself is Rs 167 crore," said N Jayanthi, general manager, customer relations officer , Bescom. "We will look into the matter and see when to give a notice to them or whether to disconnect the power supply," she added.

A senior BBMP official revealed the civic body owes Rs 30 crore since December to at least 40 to 50 contractors who maintain the streetlights.

"Paying them takes time since these are online transactions. We've processed the payment and are waiting for approval from the commissioner's office," he said.

Toppled light poles

The rain has also added to the streetlight issue as some of the light poles toppled in the downpour have not been replaced.

"We spend Rs 12 to 13 crore in a month on streetlights. We will clear the dues soon," said the official.

Raising the issue at the monthly council meeting, Mayor R Sampath Raj asked the assistant engineers concerned to check the dues and clear them at the earliest.

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Streets of suburbia in darkness as complacent Palike fail to clear bills

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